Customer Support Myths…Are They Really Myths?

Managing a call center can be an art as well as a science. Some service managers use a set of pigeon-holed metrics, like average hold times, number of emails processed per agent, and, in some cases, customer satisfaction ratings on their service. Others apply established best practices to their organizations, without thought of what works for their company size, their product or service set, and their customer demographic. Some jump on the current trend bandwagon without an analysis of what this means stragecially for the company.

I have been compiling a list of "half truths and total nonsense" about management philosophies and technologies in support. Here is my  top 10 list.

Kate's List of Common Customer Service Myths:

Common myth


What this means

Social CRM is giving customers control of your brand.

Total nonsense

Take advantage of social channels to have an authentic conversation with customers and to reflect and reinforce your brand.

Established best practices apply to my call center.

Half Truth

Best practices exist for a reason. But don't adopt them in a vacuum. Examine each one before adopting to ensure that it is in line with your customer service strategy and operations

Discussion forums cut call volumes.


Discussion forums do answer common questions and deflect incoming calls. However, if done right, forums can help educate, engage, and support customers. This level of engagement helps drive customer satisfaction and can result in customers wanting to deepen relationships with your company and can result in contact with your customer service organization.

Longer calls are not good web self-service candidates.

Half truth

Longer calls that follow reproducible processes are perfect candidates for web or mobile self service. Longer calls about exceptions or corner cases are not good self-service candidates.

Front-line support agents don't know anything.

Total nonsense

Forrester data shows that self-service channels are the first point of contact for customers. This means that harder questions are being escalated to front-line support agents. Agents need to know something to be able to answer these questions!

When you measure operational activities, you measure business indicators.

Half truth

Operational activities like handle time or speed of answer don't always map back to business indicators such as churn, customer lifetime value. or profitability. You need to define a clear mapping between business outcomes and the operation measures that support these outcomes.

Customers can't create reliable knowledge.

Total nonsense

Customers can (and will) create reliable knowledge, with a depth and breadth that exceeds company-generated knowledge. The trick is to engage your customers to contribute to your knowledgebase.

Email doesn’t work as a support medium.

Total nonsense

According to Forrester data, email remains the third most popular channel after web and mobile self-service and phone. B2C customer service organizations are moving away from this channel. Why? Email is a static channel that doesn't facilitate real-time conversations. Yet, email remains viable for outbound notifications, such as billing and shipping alerts or issuing a return merchandise authorization. For technical support, email allows effective sharing of files and data

Chat won’t work for customer service.

Total nonsense

Chat is the fastest-growing digital channel across all generations. Why? It provides near-real-time service with minimal engagement friction.

Better search helps me find what I am looking for.

Half truth

With better search, you will find content and data across a greater number of repositories. However, more information and data doesn't always surface the one right answer that you are looking for.

Thoughts? What are your common myths and half truths?

Kate Leggett is a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, serving application development and delivery professionals.